Whether you’re aware of it or not, your habits control your entire life.
In fact, according to Charles Duhigg, NYT Bestselling author of The Power Of Habit:
“Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not… 40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.”
So if 40% of our daily decisions are actually habits, what are the best habits to have?
In this post, you’ll discover the top 8 good habits to instill in your life.
Let’s dive in.
Note: There’s a reason why this article focuses on the top 8 good habits, instead of a list of 200+ to choose from. The habits listed in this article are what I like to refer to as “exponential habits” — habits that will have a domino effect on making other areas of your life better. Focus on these first, and other good habits will develop naturally.
Believe it or not, there are many “invisible” forces that make a HUGE impact on how you live the rest of your life.
And there is one, single “invisible force” that makes the biggest difference:
Think of it this way:
Say you’re trying to lose weight.
If your kitchen is stocked with junk food and cookies, your environment is actively fighting against your goal of losing weight.
When you break it down like this, you’ll begin to realize that the secret to achieving many of your goals is simply to optimize your environments.
Want to be less distracted, more focused, and get more quality work done?
Want to eat healthier?
When you break down any goal, you’ll realize that the easiest way to accomplish them is to engineer your environment to work for you — not against you.
If you’re trying to develop good habits in your life, learning how to set up your environment to develop those habits is perhaps one of the best strategies out there.
To move forward powerfully towards building the life you’ve always wanted, you must focus on goal setting.
And I’m not talking “oh it’s New Years. Time to set some goals...” kind of goal setting.
I’m talking about setting goals for:
It may sound like overkill, but if you’re serious about growth, you’ll take this advice seriously.
As the famous quote by Lewis Carroll goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
Just think about it:
How are you supposed to accomplish anything if you don’t have a plan?
By setting BIG goals out 3 years and 1 year from now, you can then reverse engineer exactly what you should be doing every quarter, month, week, and day to make your goals a reality.
If you consistently execute and adjust your goals as necessary, you will accomplish whatever goal you set.
On top of setting goals, another powerful habit to create is to regularly reflect on your progress towards your goals.
At the same intervals that I suggested you set goals, you should also take some time to reflect on the previous time period.
By doing this, you set yourself up to learn from your past.
And once you know how to learn from your past, you can apply your takeaways to adjusting your goals to make sure that you’re on track.
For the longest time, I put this off.
But after studying some of the world’s most successful people, I began to realize that goal reflection was one of the good habits they worked hard to establish.
As Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach says:
“You can have a great deal of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen, and heard. Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth.
But if you regularly transform your experiences into new lessons, you will make each day of your life a source of growth. The smartest people are those who transform even the smallest events or situations into breakthroughs in thinking and action.
Look at all of life as a school and every experience as a lesson, and your learning will always be greater than your experience.”
If you’ve already worked to establish goals and then regularly revisit them, you have a vision of a future version of yourself you’d like to become.
Once you’ve established this, the question becomes:
How can I consistently move closer to becoming the future version of myself?
Personally, I think one of the key secrets lies in this picture that I saw in the book, Atomic Habits:
The premise is simple:
With every good choice you make, you move towards a good day.
With every bad choice you make, you move towards a bad day.
If you wanted to, you could easily take the above picture and build it out into a MASSIVE decision tree with millions of decisions.
Then, on the far right hand side, instead of saying “good day” or “bad day”, you’d put “good life” and “bad life”.
If you aren’t happy with where you currently are in life, chances are you’re living in an environment that is forcing you to make bad choices.
If this goes without change, it will eventually lead to bad days, weeks, months, and years.
So, every time you must make a decision— from hitting the snooze button to procrastinating on an important project — think about this diagram, and ask yourself:
Is this decision supporting me in getting closer to the ideal version of myself?
How much stuff do you own that doesn’t actually make you happier?
In today’s materialistic world, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in buying thing after thing after thing.
And, before you know it, your home is stuffed with things that simply don’t bring you happiness.
For example, picture your closet right now.
How much clothing do you own that you haven’t worn in YEARS... if ever?
You may not think that having unworn clothes is impacting you that much, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
How much less clutter would you have to deal with if you only owned things that you love?
How much money could you save if you stopped buying things you don't need?
Establishing good habits that come from living a minimalist life can and will truly change your life.
This may just be one of the last things you’d expect to see in a “good habits” list, but it’s truly one if the most transformative habits you can establish.
Let me show you what I mean:
There is a 99% chance that whatever you’re trying to accomplish right now has already been done by someone else.
With that in mind, you have two options to accomplish your goals:
Which option do you think is the most effective?
Here’s the problem though:
Most people don’t establish the habit of reaching out to others for help when they need it.
Instead, they sit and do things the “slow” way by muddling through it on their own.
So the next time you are...
... instead of asking “HOW can I do this”, ask yourself “WHO can help me do this?”
To learn how to identify people that can help you and reach out to them in a way that makes them want to respond, make sure to check out the resources mentioned below:
There’s no doubt about it:
No matter what industry you’re in, the pace of progress and new information is faster today than ever before — and it’s accelerating exponentially.
And while that’s great and all, this rapid growth presents an entirely new problem:
If you can’t learn quickly and effectively, you’re going to get left behind.
But unlike your refrigerator which came with a 50+ page user manual, your brain (aka the single most complex object in the known universe) comes with zero information as to how to use it effectively.
How is that fair?
Well, it’s not.
But, believe it or not, your brain came installed with the ability to...
... one of the ULTIMATE good habits you can establish is what Jonathan calls “SuperLearning”.
Jonathan has had over 250,000 students go through his programs to help them to learn faster and more effectively.
The results are truly amazing.
So if you want to unlock your ability to level up in every other area of your life, I highly recommend checking out his material.
To get started, see the resources box below.
There are few things that you can do that dramatically improve all areas of your life.
One of them is sleep.
Here is a (short) list of some of the surprising benefits of sleep:
And I’m not talking just getting more sleep — I’m talking about making sure that you’re getting quality sleep. And as it turns out, there is a lot more that goes into getting quality sleep than you may think.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve been borderline obsessed with optimizing my sleep.
Here are some of the top tips I’ve learned over the past few years when it comes to establishing good habits for sleep.
For more in-depth explanations of these tips, make sure to check out the resources box at the bottom of this section. I learned most of the tips I’ll share here from the incredible book, Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson.
Sleep Tip #1: Caffeine Curfews & Caffeine Cycling
Study after study has shown that caffeine negatively impacts sleep.
The reason is somewhat obvious — caffeine is a stimulant!
So if you want to get higher quality sleep and still enjoy your caffeine, at LEAST make sure that you have a “caffeine curfew” of 8 hours before you plan to go to bed.
Why so early?
Caffeine has an 8 hour half life, which means that if you had a cup of coffee at 12PM, you’d still have HALF of the caffeine from that cup of coffee in your body at 8PM.
My fiancee and I are strict with our caffeine curfews, and also use another strategy that we learned from Sleep Smarter called “caffeine cycling”.
According to Shawn Stephenson, “Caffeine can be used strategically to enhance metabolism, increase alertness and focus, and even improve liver function if used in the right way.”
Shawn recommends using caffeine cycling — having caffeine 2 days on, 3 days off — to allow caffeine to be completely cleared from your system.
You’ll notice if you do this that caffeine will start to have a stronger effect on you again, and it’ll make having coffee more special!
Sleep Tip #2: Have A Technology Cutoff Time
Plain and simple:
Humans aren’t adapted for technology.
For tens of thousands of years, humans woke up when the sun rose, and went to bed when the sun went down.
For that exact reason, our biology isn’t adapted to having light stimulation for as long as we choose.
All of your devices emit blue light, which interferes with your body’s ability to effectively prepare itself for sleep.
Staring at a screen and having bright lights on tell your body that it’s still daylight. When this happens, your body won’t start to produce hormones that help you to get quality sleep.
So if you want to establish the good habit of prioritizing sleep quality, try having a technology cutoff time a few hours before bed.
If you absolutely must use technology close to bedtime, make sure to use some blue light blocking glasses.
Sleep Tip #3: Train
Sleep and exercise have a beautiful relationship.
Exercise more, and you’ll get better sleep.
Get better sleep, and your performance will improve.
And the cycle goes on!
If you’re looking for a “quick win” for improving your sleep, make sure you’re getting the right amount of exercise every day.
Just make sure that you’re not working out too close to bedtime, as that can have a negative impact on your sleep!
No good habit list would be complete if it didn’t at least slightly mention the ultimate good habit:
Just like all of the other good habits mentioned on this list, exercise has an “exponential effect” on all other areas of your life.
Not only will you feel more full of energy, improve your self-confidence, and increase your productivity, but my favorite result of having an exercise routine is the change in my identity that happened when I started exercising.
What do I mean by that?
According to James Clear in his NYT bestselling book, Atomic Habits, “The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say ‘I’m the type of person who is this.”
When I developed the habit of exercising, my identity slowly began to shift towards the kind of person who is healthy.
When that identity shift happened, I started to naturally eat better to stay in alignment with that identity.
Then because I viewed myself as someone who works out and eats healthy, I began to look into improving other areas of my life, like sleep...
And the cycle went on.
Establishing the good habit of exercise is one of the best “exponential habits” that will have powerful effects on the rest of your life.
As we learned in the beginning of this article, habits make up for approximately 40% of the “decisions” that we make throughout the day.
So if you want to upgrade your life in every way imaginable, one of the highest yielding opportunities is to look for ways that you can establish good habits.
And better yet, if you focus on these 8 good habits mentioned in this article, you will slowly start to build other powerful habits that will change your life.
Let me know in the comments below:
Which habit are you most excited about implementing in your life?
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